Dealing with dry hair can be very frustrating and often feels like a losing battle. Dry hair is harder to style and more prone to breakage. It can also cause you to feel self-conscious. So how do we keep our hair moisturized and feeling soft and manageable?
Know the nature of afro-textured hair.
This may be the last thing you want to hear, but afro- textured hair is prone to dryness by nature. Every kink or curl makes it harder for our scalp’s natural oils to travel down the hair strands. Having dry hair from time to time is inevitable. Therefore don’t be stressed about something that cannot be completely avoided. Accept that dry hair may only be minimized. Just because you experience dry hair occasionally, this doesn’t mean your hair cannot thrive. A little dryness isn’t going to lead to permanently damaged hair, so try not to worry about it. Stress alone is can affect the health of our hair.
Understand that water is moisture
Most of us who have been natural for while are aware of this. However, it is important to mention this again, as it is fundamental to the health of afro- textured hair. Rather than products that are full of petroleum or mineral oil, purchase leave in conditioners that are water based. This means water or aqua is the first or second ingredient on the list. For those who like to keep it simple (like myself) spraying your hair lightly with water is just as effective. Remember moisturized hair doesn’t necessarily mean wet hair, so you don’t have to completely drench your hair in water. Usually it is not getting moisture into our hair that is the problem, it is retaining moisture that is the real challenge.
One of the most effective ways to lock in moisture is to seal with an oil or butter. Examples of which include: avocado oil, coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil and Shea butter. Each have different benefits but achieve the same goal of sealing in moisture. Oil by itself is not sufficient to provide moisture to the hair; it simply works by sealing in the water that would simply evaporate quickly without it. However some oils work by penetrating the hair and thus have moisturizing properties; avocado oil and coconut oil do this for instance. Even so, water should be the main source of moisture.
If you have looser type 3 curls or fine hair, you may find oil too heavy for sealing. aloe vera juice can also be used to seal in moisture without weighing down your hair.
Use products that contain humectants
Humectants attract moisture from the air to moisturize the hair. Products that contain humectants usually keep the hair moist and gradually provide moisture throughout the day. Glycerin is a popular humectant found in many products. Other humectants include aloe vera gel and honey. Products that contain a lot of glycerin may not be suitable for styling twist outs or braid outs, where definition is important. They may cause frizz, especially if you live in an area with high humidity. When my hair was shorter, I used to spray it with water and glycerin. One night, I thought this would be suitable for styling my hair in a twist out. The next morning, while getting ready for work I took the twists out and thought it looked good. However as the day progressed my hair became more frizzy and puffy. By the afternoon, I had more of a textured afro (which can look great but that wasn’t the look I had planned). Working as a school teacher, some of the kids ‘politely’ told me my hairstyle reminded them of Sideshow Bob, from The Simpsons. I learned the hard way that glycerin and twist outs do not go together.
However when styling your hair in two strand twists or another protective style, products with glycerin work very well. You may even find that you don’t have to reapply any more product for a few days. Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie contains glycerin and works as an excellent moisturizer for protective styles, buns or puffs. I use it to moisturize my ends when my hair is in a puff and it also helps with manageability before styling.
Plastic caps ensure a little moisture goes a long way. Spray your hair with some water; cover your head with a plastic cap, then wear your satin scarf as normal. Leave it in overnight and you should wake up with moist, manageable hair. The plastic cap will use your body heat to create more moisture from your scalp. Even better, saturate your hair with conditioner as well and do the same before a detangling session. It should make detangling your hair a lot easier. Regular deep conditioning is essential to maintain the moisture level of your hair. If you don’t have a steamer or hooded dryer, simply covering your head with a plastic cap can be effective. Wrapping your head with a warm towel over the plastic cap, will provide more heat.
Hydrate from within
Hair is one-quarter water, so water is essential for the health of your hair. Water also carries essential vitamins to the hair root to hydrate the entire strand from the inside. Water provides energy for the hair cells that promote growth and flushes out pollutants, which are the main causes of hair loss. If you don’t drink enough water, both your hair and skin will feel dry. It is recommended that we drink 8-10 glasses of water a day and more when exercising.
When your hair is worn in a protective style, less moisture is lost. So bear this in mind when deciding how to style your hair. Protective styles include; two strand twists, buns, braids and various updos. The benefit of protective styles are evident but it may not be for everyone. Many prefer to wear their hair out and enjoy versatility. However you have to weigh the pros and cons of this and decide what is best for your hair. There are many beautiful and versatile protective styles to try, that can be done without weaves or extensions.
How do you keep your hair moisturized? Share your ideas below…….